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$10,000 With a Sincere Apology

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The County Board of Supervisors has been on the equivalent of a drunken rampage, wherein they keep missing or cancelling their public meetings,

and when you do finally bring the bungles to the attention of Celia Zavala, the Exectuive Officer, "Your access code was not recognized. Please re-enter your access code followed by the pound sign." 

I called the operator, "Please open the lines. This is outrageous..."  She promised to have a supervisor call back. 

I dashed off an email, "Madame Executive Officer, there was a mishap. The AT&T group is showing the meeting started at 9:15 and ended in less than five minutes. I am in the virtual corridor and would like to address the board when they reconvene in open session to read out any action including sometimes "no reportable action" following the closed session. 

My telephone number is 818-645-2616 and AT&T has it. Just call me back when you are ready for the read out and I'll deliver my comment, as usual... FREE of charge. 

  

I got a call a few minutes later from the (952) area code... an AT&T Supervisor from Minneapolis-St.Paul, "The Board mentioned it would be a very short call... and though it was scheduled for two hours... it only lasted for less than half an hour." 

"What? They haven't met in weeks," I said. 

The AT&T Supervisor, said that she had spoken with the AT&T operator, who remembers your name, Mr. Preven, from previous calls." 

"I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the operator, and at the 64th SoCal Journalism Awards as a finalist, in two categories including Online Journalist of the year, but what happened to the public meeting?"  

She explained, "The meeting started at 9:15.  The board only met for 13 minutes..."  

I asked, "How is that possible, how many people spoke?" 

The operator, who was diligent and tenacious, said "I can't provide those conference details." 

I asked, "Why not?" 

"County of Los Angeles Confidentiality" 

"Got it," but it's a public entity, and the board technically works for the 10 million county Angelenos. I told her I would "check on the recording." 

"AT&T did not record this conference," she said. 

After a robust inquisition led by the public, the AT&T Supervisor, finally demurred, "I'm sure they do miss you, but I don't have a way to provide more details on the call." 

Lindsay Horvath, who is running for County Supervisor to replace Sheila Kuehl, told KCAL on election night, in a flurry of excitement, that the county's budget was "$40 billion dollars."  

For the record, the county's recommended budget that was passed around last month was $38.5 billion.   

What's $1.5 billion among friends?  

Upside Down:

Kevin DeLeon, who replaced Jose Huizar as Council member for CD14, thanked the "many women and men who we fight for every single day" and who, partially comprised his rather expansive college intern brigade.   

A whole volleyball team of young volunteers have been working side by side 24/7 to keep the 24/7 workers of Los Angeles... working.  From dawn tol dusk, followed by back-to-back night shifts..."just to keep food on the table and clothes on the backs of their children."  

At the Grove, where five-star Concierge services are available to ensure every visit is an enjoyable one, Caruso hosted a well-attended viewing party.  Before his stirring but clumsy remarks, a programming note from the GROVE:  Bellman service, package assistance and hands-free shopping, as well as, notary services. are temporarily unavailable, to ensure the health and safety of our employees and guests.  

The Daily maximum for valet parking is $30.00 and the "Auto Salon" luxurious car wash, is quoting $150, for a FULL DETAIL [*competitive*] 

Everyone is welcome at Caruso's from the line dancing group running dogs of capitalism, the Grove is a Pet-friendly destination, to Branimir Kvartuc of CD15.  Some will recall, Joe Buscaino pulling him off a constituent, "Branimir, Branimir, Branimir, calm down! Back up!"  

So, YES to Flash Mobs of adorable young consumers with latte loving parents, but NO to Flash Mobs that result in smash-and-grab.  

Zev Yaroslavsky, who mostly believes that he's telling the truth, said it was "not a great night for Caruso, who was hoping to clear the table with more than 50% of the vote."   

Now, he'll have to face Bass in November when more working class voters typically come out.  

Caruso's task is clear.  He needs to convince the working class voters that he's their man. Not so easy from the poop deck of the 216 ft Invictus.   Therefore, Mr. DeLeon's voters may decide the November election. 

Rick Caruso came out saying he loved each of his family members on the stage at the Grove, and then repeated Sweet Alice's name at least a half dozen times, to give the impression that this was as diverse a campaign as was legally possible, from a former Republican mall developing billionaire who has his name affixed to Pepperdine Law School, where Ken Starr hung his cowboy hat! 

Karen Bass said the bold path forward was for voters "...to feel safe, to breathe air that is clean, and so people are not dying on our streets." 

Alex Villanueva, the incumbent Sheriff who will be headed for a November cage fight with the acting Chief of Police for Long Beach, Robert Luna, told his supporters "I have been playing 8 on 1 basketball" but"...if I have to battle the board of supervisors, then ... So. Be. It."   

Villanueva gave the impression that the rest of the field would kowtow to the board's whim: See anti-Gascon rhetoric. 

Seth Moskowitz had a piece in Persuasion, where he is an editor, entitled, "Why Democrats Are Recalling Their Own." 

In sum, he posits, voters care more about quality of life than ideology.  

He notes, "If progressive candidates make life worse for their constituents—and if they continue to respond to that concern with aloof condescension and strict adherence to ideological purity—they will not only continue to lose progressives but will also give up any chance at winning over moderates and independents." 

He goes on to speculate, that Republicans, and Donald Trump himself, must be "salivating at the thought of running against such a party."  

"Ixnay elltay ymay exyay"

The New York Times had an opinion article, suggesting that marriages are not supposed to be perfect, and there is a reason to stay in a bad marriage.  It caught my attention, nothing new there, it's about compromise... My wife, as my father used to say was "good enough" she was, a great mother and a wonderful person... she also gets credit for igniting the Arab Spring.   

She doesn't know this, so keep it on the down low. 

My job was to provide interesting programming ideas to a colleague who had taken over Canal Plus, a PayTv service beamed into four countries in Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.  

At the time, I was married, and my wife who was more of a night owl, to my early bird, watched the Daily Show religiously.  She wondered if my "swedes" would like it. 

The conventional wisdom at the time, was that regional politics did not travel well.  Johnny Carson was able to vacation in France because they were not hounding him as the Tonight Show star because they had a French star, Thierry Ardisson, at one point.  

But it was 2008, an election year!  When I poked around, I learned that Scandi countries had a voracious appetite for news, with competitive newspaper markets.  Cutting to the chase, I fought to license and subtitle into four languages, from Comedy Central, the Daily Show!  To kick the whole thing into gear, I arranged to bring 8 journalists from the region to New York on a junket to meet the gang.   

Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert who was a correspondent that year, were very charmed by the gaggle of Scandi reporters.  

Other than the esteemed journalist from Denmark, who drank heavily one night and alienated the Scandi press corps, until they had to have him gently "alienated" from the party with a gentle use of force.  

It went so well, that when I went to Sweden for a top-level conference the Chairman of the board gave me a modest but enormous bonus and said, "I wish everyone did their job, the way you did yours."   

The whole region took notice, which was a coup for the PayTV company who added subscribers.  I don't think that many people added the service for the Daily Show, but they enjoyed reading in the press about it, as they signed up for the Premier League football that my boss had successfully bid for and won.  

A few years later, I was assisting in a similar way as a consultant to the PayTV platform *Showtime Arabia* that was beamed around  in the middle east. The HQ was based in Dubai, and co-owned by Viacom and Kipco, a Kuwaiti power company partner.    

This time, my out of the box idea was to bring the "Axis of Evil," a group of like-minded stand-up comedians who endured a series of funny (but not really funny)  post 9-11 humiliations.   Maz Jobrani, Ahmed-Ahmed, Aaron Kader, and Dean Obeidallah among others, should come over and "it will be like a homecoming!  Everyone across the Mideast will take notice and love it!" 

The stony faces of the Kipco board said it all, but later a colleague explained they were worried that stand up comedy would lead to a fatwah. I disagreed.  

I pushed and irritated everyone until they agreed to give comedy a chance.  We would film the whole thing and make it available exclusively on Showtime... while you take a break from all the Premier league you bought and paid for.  

Again, it was a boffo hit... and even though I missed the first few shows from a secure bunker in a stateside beach community, I was once again proven right, that the people always love a homecoming.  

A few years later a show like the Daily Show in Egypt...   

TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT     This is top secret.  

Pig Latin, or “Igpay Atinlay” is a form of jargon in which English words are altered to conceal the conversations from others. 

 

Shorter is faster 

If one enjoys Arnold Sachs, a sort of Oscar Madison grouch, with plenty of questions for the City Council, and before they went underground, the Board of Supervisors, it is nice to see he is still kicking.   

He was the only speaker at Council on Tuesday and on Wednesday he led the charge of ... monsignor Cox, showed up as the social arm of the arch diocese.  He received a letter from cultural designation office, attempting to designate the building as a monument.  Catholic charities objects to the proposed designation -- Zapper noise. 

Go ahead and finish your thoughts, and we'll circulate your document. 

Thank you, our goal was to build a indoor gymnasium pre-pandemic... now we will suffer by this designation."  

So sorry Mr. Cedillo is not here.  If he could read this... "Why don't you hand it to this gentleman." 

That was it... three "@(@#ing" speakers. 

 

$10,000 and a sincere apology:

I was wondering if the prior county beat reporter, who moved on to the mental health beat, was tuning into a NY Times event. 

Elizabeth Williamson... from the legitimate New York Times was talking with Amy Barkhorst and Julian Ford about the recent wave of shootings. 

Barkhorst said, "We have to find a reason...so, we go mental health, but for crimes, robberies etc. we don't attribute those shootings to mental health."   "If we stamped out mental illness" she posited, "we would reduce crime by 4%..." 

"We always hear they've had counseling (the shooters) ... there is a difference between having mental health issues, and a problem... depression, anxiety, anger.   Those things can be in the normal range, or potentially a symptom of mental illness. 

"Chest pain, doesn't mean you are having a heart attack... "  

Severity, matters." she said, but sadness and loneliness are normal parts of human emotions. They can of course get out of control.  

The fact that young men are often bullied, isolated, under-appreciated... is not helping.  "It results in violent revenge fantasies." 

These young men feel compelled to show that they are worthy... they want to feel powerful because they felt ...the opposite.  

This is not necessarily a mental illness, though it is characteristic of someone who is "not in a great space..." 

Can that problem be rectified by improvements to the mental health system? 

Amy Barkhorst said, "A lot of people during pandemic ...worried about more suicides.  But we didn't see that overall in the numbers.  We did see a big increase in violence and homicides." It was surprising but correlated with large firearm purchases.  

The demographic of first-time buyers who were not the typical old white guys, but more liberals, women, and people of color, she said, "I was gobsmacked by that..." 

Between 2019 - 2022 on average there was a 45 % increase in firearm purchases across all the states. 

Red Flag laws could be helpful, "but if you have a High School student... whose into violent video games, military stuff... comments to students, 'wouldn't it be cool to blow this place up, then he references Columbine...' etc... a so-called, school-shooter type!   

If that kid were legally old enough, at 18 to get a gun... if he had no hospitalizations... he can legally own firearms. "The police can't just take them away."    

People are understandably alarmed when cops show up and they have "no legal recourse."  Red Flag laws could fill that hole. If a judge decides, the owner could be a danger... they can extend the order." 

I asked an LA County Sheriff Watch Commander, "if I saw a Howitzer artillery gun in my neighbors' garage would you come out?"  

He reminded me of the 2nd amendment, "no." 

The conversation shifted to the fact that adolescents don't develop a pre-frontal cortex until their mid 20s.  Adolescent boys have high rates of substance abuse, sex activity, car crashes, impulsive acts of decision.   They are more likely to perpetrate a mass shooting because they don't fully grasp it. The anger, rage, vengeance is consuming.  

So, by increasing to 21, the age to get a firearm...  it would be better! 

Julian Ford came out and said the parents of Adam Lanza, who killed children at Sandy Hook in 2012, really tried to get help for their kid, but, they felt the state failed them.   

Adam was an isolated, emotionally detached twenty year old.   As a pre-teen... he had a significant psychiatric evaluation at Yale. 

Nothing came out, violent.  

They found he was not just depressed, he was not psychotic, but he was very cut off and detached from other human beings. 

Not like autism, where some things are not relatable... or psychopathy, no concern for other people.  Adam wanted to be involved with other people, but he reportedly didn't know how. 

Ford, who wrote a book about this, said Adam, "couldn't have an understanding of how others might feel. "Then he told of a fifth grade... drawing, that Adam labeled, "The big book of granny..." 

Dr. Ford found the drawings of all sorts of violence happening to an older woman called granny, deeply troubling.   The fact that he was struggling with violent impulses, never showed up anywhere else in his behavior. 

He was living in a basement, and the one family thing he liked to do, was go to the shooting range.  He was very detached... and literally became obsessed with video games, and military and weapons.  His mother thought going to the gun range with him was a way to connect to him...   

The attack began when Adam killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in the home that the two shared in Newtown.  

Would a Taser Drone have helped?  

Apparently, the inhouse AI Ethics board, at Axon the parent company of Taser, has more balls than the LA City Ethics commission.  Those who don't recall Mitch Englander's Taser tenacity, can refresh here.  

Armed police couldn’t stop the shooters in Buffalo and in Uvalde. But perhaps a very small drone equipped with a Taser could. Specifically, Axon CEO Rick Smith suggested last week, “non-lethal drones capable of incapacitating an active shooter in less than 60 seconds” (according to the Axon press release), which would be stationed inside of schools. 

Smith’s curious proposal met near-instantaneous backlash. By Monday, nine members of Axon’s A.I. ethics board had resigned, writing in a statement that the school Taser-drone announcement had led them to conclude “that after several years of work, the company has fundamentally failed to embrace the values that we have tried to instill.” 

Smith, who adored Mitch Englander for shoving through a huge bodycam order with 4,400 Tasers under the seat, early on, is deeply into this idea and outlined his views in detail in his 2019 self-published graphic novel, The End of Killing, which combines his philosophical take on the matter with two hypothetical scenarios in which Taser drones feature.   

According to the graphic novel, “killing is a technology problem,” and Axon-made devices like Tasers and Tasers that fit on drones are the solution.  

"In one graphic novel scenario, an improbably buff workplace shooter is (literally) shocked into submission by a miniature Taser drone that emerges from a smoke detector–like nest on the ceiling. In a second and even more fanciful scenario, set in Syria in 2045, an ISIS-like masked man with a scimitar is prevented from executing an innocent man by a fleet of small Taser-equipped drones, which U.S. intelligence services had tasked with watching the area. After a human approves the action, the drone tases the swordsman into submission. Then a “human transport drone” equipped with a large grabbing arm scoops him up and flies away with him. At the detention facility where he’s deposited, he’s fitted with a mind-scanning helmet that literally reads his memories, looking for incriminating information. 

“Thousands of people will be processed in the same manner,” Smith confidently asserts. “Some of them will be determined to have done nothing wrong; they will be released and given $10,000 along with a sincere apology.” 

(Eric Preven has been named a finalist in the upcoming 64th SoCal Journalism Awards in the category of Journalist of The Year (Online).  A commentary co-written by Joshua Preven entitled “The Pandemic Should Not be Used as a Pretext to Muffle the Voices of the Inconvenient Public” is also a finalist.)

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)